The government's priorities in tackling the pandemic, supporting the weakest members of society and preparing for vaccinations, as well as the results of his trip to the United Arab Emirates, were the focus of an online meeting between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Thursday. During this, he emphasised that Greece will return to more normal conditions "once we are certain that the pressure on the health system has been significantly reduced".
"We will examine the epidemiological data next week and make our decisions, based on the advice of the experts," Mitsotakis said, expressing hope that their next meeting in December will be held face to face.
"We have repeatedly said that whether we have Christmas with our loved ones - in a framework that will certainly be different for normal Christmases but will not a framework of full lockdown - depends primarily on ourselves. If we adhere to and continue to observe the basic protection measures, it is certain that the cases will decline and the pressure on the national health system will not be such as to force us to constantly operate 'on red alert' as now," he said.
The prime minister expressed his thanks to all medical and nursing staff on the front line for their huge efforts against the global pandemic.
Mitsotakis said the government's second priority was to stand by the weakest members of society and demonstrate social solidarity during the crisis. "We will continue to do this. We will support Greece society, the economy, the workers and businesses for as long as this crisis lasts, until we have a mass vaccine that allows us to put this ordeal behind us," he added.
Noting the hopeful news as regards a vaccine, he said that Greece had already secured significant quantities of this via the European Union and that the health minister had presented the plans for the mass vaccination of the Greek population, starting in January.
He said it was important for the state and political leadership to be the first to receive the vaccine for symbolic reasons, to reassure people that it was a means of protection from the disease and the only way to return to normal economic and social activities.
"We must build a wall of logic and solidarity against the few," he said, in order to minimise the loss of human lives
We have to stand fast, be careful show solidarity, Sakellaropoulou says
President Sakellaropoulou said the second wave of the pandemic was severe, and that the thoughts of the country were in Thessaloniki and northern Greece.
"Unfortunately, the coronavirus proved to be very dangerous, it does not forgive any negligence, relaxation or complacency. We have difficult days in front of us still, let us hope they are not too many," she said.
The president noted the public's fatigue with the measures and the difficult conditions but stressed that "we have to stand fast, be careful and show solidarity so that we can meet again in better conditions."
She also called for the "active material recognition" by the state, as soon as possible, of the great effort being made by doctors and nursing staff, especially in the areas that were currently worst hit by the pandemic.
The president particularly highlighted the contribution of volunteers, in all its forms, including those volunteering in hospitals: "We owe them great recognition and gratitude because they are precisely that example of Civil Society that is always present and of state functionaries that go beyond the bound of duty, even at a risk to their own lives," she stressed.
Welcoming the news regarding a vaccine, she said this gives people strength to get through this time and urged great discipline in following the advice of the experts, emphasizing the important role of the media in this direction.
Regarding his trip to the UAE, Mitsotakis said this was a success and referred to the agreements signed, commenting: "It is a proof that Greek foreign policy, in the last year, has succeeded in building new alliances with countries that see the events in our broader region, the Middle East but also the Eastern Mediterranean, through the same point of view that we do ourselves."
He said this created a regional cooperation framework for Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries that had both an economic and defense dimension.